I am at the end of my sabbatical here. After my last class at the Goethe Institut, I take a nostalgic stroll by this city emblem and theme image of this blog.
On the gate completed in 1789 by Carl Gotthard Langhans, sits the stunning Quadriga (Victory on her horse drawn chariot) by Schadow whom I have mentioned more than once.
In 1806 when Napoleon took Berlin, he removed the Quadriga, by now a national symbol, removing it to Paris, which was eventually won back and reinstalled in 1814.
Increasingly the gate was used to represent military might with parades through it, for example in 1933, when the National Socialists came to power.
Bitter fighting as the Soviets took this sector of Berlin near the end of the war in April 1945, saw the Quadriga almost completely destroyed.
In the 1950s, the Quadriga was restored in a brief East/West Germany cooperation which was short lived, with the installation of the Berlin wall in 1961 and the gate was lost to the East German zone.
With the fall of the Wall in November 1989, the gate and the Quadriga have resumed significance. In my short time here I have seen the gate set up to screen the football final, host President Obama’s drop in, and last weekend it was the venue for the Christopher Street party. Three more divergent uses you could not imagine.
I walk away more than a little sad, trying to dodge out of frame of the many, ‘I’ve been there’ photos being made in front of the gate, around me. I’ve been there too and its been totally amazing. Thank you Berlin. And thank you Goethe-Institut.